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    Monday, January 21, 2008


    CLOVERFIELD is, at least up until now, the most ambitious "found Artifact" as film to date. Like its predecessors THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE LAST BROADCAST, et al, it is told from a single point of view via a single found tape, now ostensibly in the hands of the Department of Defense. This is a tricky way to tell a story, but even with all of its faults CLOVERFIELD succeeds to a certain degree. One of the reasons it does so is that it is the first time this device has been used to tell this type of story. Haven't you always wondered what a Godzilla attack looked like from the victim's point-of-view? I know I have.

    Now of course the monster is not Godzilla, and from the looks of its anatomy not of this world either. However, it does a fine job of tearing the city apart and is lent the gentle assistance of the US Government trying to kill it and ultimately helping it in the absolute destruction of the city. The film succeeds quite nicely with this. The special effects are really quite a sight as well as the design of the creature and its parasitic minions. It works mostly as a chase film combined with a heroic gesture film. You don't always think the protagonists are thinking straight, but at least their mistakes aren't too unbelievable.

    Unfortunately, it being a found tape, you only get to see the interactions they have from the cameraman's point of view and this is where much of the emotion is kept at bay. You never really get to know the characters and really don't feel much empathy with them, but then again it is a monster movie so why should you. Well, you should because part of watching a movie of this design is to feel a part of what's happening on screen. You want to care when one of your traveling companions dies. I didn't. Was I creeped out by the subway tunnel scene? You betcha. I wouldn't want to be within 1000 feet of those nasty little bastards, but I didn't feel awful when one of them got bit, which, isn't a good idea let me tell you.

    Part of this distance isn't just generated with the camera, but how they chose to portray the character of Hud, who is the predominant camera operator throughout the bulk of the film. He's so awkward that he'd rather hide behind the eye piece than help the girl he has a crush on clean her wound. He actually makes uncomfortable jokes about her bite. I do have to say that I can't imagine why or how he was even hiding behind the eye piece of the camera anyway since most either don't even have them any more or have a fold out screen as well. I wished he had used the screen. It would have kept the image from shaking so much.

    Now it might sound like I'm being overly harsh, but I'm not. Making this kind of film is difficult and like I said before I think they succeeded quite well, but there are a few things I wish they had thought out a bit better. The camera has a way of having just the right thing at the right time. There is night vision when you needed it, to show the little parasite bastards at just the right moment, but only the audience and the camera operator can see them of course, but not when you should be using it and there is a light on the camera, also when you need it.

    Of course all of the protagonists are well off enough to be friends with a guy who lives high up in a nice big apartment, who just happens to be dating a girl in midtown, also in a nice apartment overlooking central park. Now, I know why this had to be done. You need those nice high shots, but why is it that these movies follow the trials and tribulations of the beautiful. Don't get me wrong I'm generally glad they do, because the only way I'm getting killed is if someone needs the short dumpy witty guy to join their team. At least we usually survive because we're smart enough to grab a flashlight.

    Where is this review going, I haven't the slightest idea other than to say that CLOVERFIELD works on many levels and doesn't work on many levels and until you get in the tunnels of the subway has, at least for me, almost no forward movement. That being said, it's a monster movie and it does what monster movies do best.

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